Canada’s American Lithium Corp on Tuesday said it submitted an early environmental permit study for its Falchani lithium project in southern Peru and expects approval in coming months, which could help fast-track construction permits.
American Lithium said its semi-detailed environmental impact assessment already allows for the drilling of up to 420 platforms across the project.
CEO Simon Clarke said the process had started in July last year under the previous government in what he described as “a difficult time for permitting in Peru.”
“The support of the new authorities in Peru in helping us fast-track this process with the common goal of seeing lithium production in the country as quickly as reasonably possible,” Clarke added.
The ouster of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo in December 2022 triggered months of deadly social protests, notably across the country’s southern mining region, causing many miners there to halt operations.
Last month, American Lithium hiked its estimates for the project by 476% from 2019, saying it could hold 5.53 million metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent, which would make it one of the world’s largest hard-rock lithium projects.
Earlier this year, Clarke said construction could begin next year or in 2025.
Lithium is a critical metal used in rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles and other electronics and demand has boomed in recent years.
With new regulations calling for more production of electric vehicles, investors have increasingly turned to South America, which is estimated to hold over half the world’s lithium.
Analysts from the National Bank of Canada’s financial markets unit said Falchani’s development, exploration and possible future expansions remain subject to many risks, such as feasibility studies and the financing to complete construction.
If this step is approved by Peru’s mining ministry, the analysts said, American Lithium will then have to complete a pre-feasibility study and an updated technical report.
(By Sarah Morland; Editing by Bill Berkrot)